What I think I know about Pennsylvania

While growing up in Minnesota, with the exception of Disney World, my family only vacationed to the West. We’d cruise across the vast lands taking in the big skies and rugged mountains, we’d go to pioneer ghost towns and walk the cemeteries, we’d bask in the wonder of the natural and man made monuments -- cementing the ideals of the West into my adolescent brain.

One of those ideals was to see life as an adventure; to search out the unknown. And since I had already been through the West, and I lived in the Midwest, my curiosity naturally peaked when I looked to the East.

I tried to get my parents to take me to New York City or Boston, but the farthest I got was Michigan (which looked a lot like Minnesota). I realized that I’d have to get there on my own...so I devised a plan to go to college somewhere in the Northeast. One school happened to be outside Philadelphia, PA, and since my folks weren’t going to let me drive out there by myself, I begged my dad to go with me. He agreed. (I think he has the same sense of adventure as I do.)

We crossed the border and were instantly stunned by how little we knew about the state. We never thought of Pennsylvania being a mountain filled, tree covered place. We never knew the state had so many historical landmarks. We never considered the amount of industry in one place. Needless to say, we were pretty ignorant but pleasantly surprised.

So, from my limited exposure, here’s what I think I know about Pennsylvania?

  • Philadelphia was, at one time, the nation’s capitol

  • Lancaster County has a ton of Amish

  • The King of Prussia Mall is one of the largest in the world

  • Benjamin Franklin is kind of a big deal

  • Pittsburgh was a steel production leader until the 1980’s

  • The guy on the Quaker Oats container probably came from PA

  • Scrapple is on the secret menu of every restaurant

  • The Office television show is set in Scranton, PA

  • Only one president came from the state, James Buchanan (lifelong bachelor)

  • The Pennsylvania turnpike is also know as the “Tunnel Highway” with five tunnels along the almost 600 mile route

  • Gettysburg was the turning point battle of the Civil War

  • It’s O.K. to order a cheesesteak “wit whiz”

  • There’s a statue of Rocky Balboa on top of the grand staircase leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art

I know...this list is laughable and almost indistinguishable from everyone else's idea of Pennsylvania, which is why I’m stoked to be living there an entire year. I can’t wait to be saturated with this enchanted land filled with history, natural beauty, and people who are known throughout the world and to know this state like the locals do.

What’s your first take on Pennsylvania? What do you associate with it?

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